Buckle up for the Broncos, mother urges
Shoulder-harness seatbelts a must on coach buses, says Tricia Wack.
On April 6, my son Stephen Wack was killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
Stephen was a 21-year-old six-foot-five defenceman with a smile and heart to match his size. Above all else, Stephen valued his relationships with God, family, friends and teammates.
While playing out his junior hockey years, Stephen’s intellect and creativity led him to pursue an interest in videography. He proved to be a talented videographer, and he planned to attain a business degree to facilitate his career in the field.
My deepest gratitude goes out to the many first responders who handled our loved ones with care, and investigators for their diligence and open communication throughout the investigative process.
On July 6, charges were laid against the driver of the semi-truck, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, including 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and 13 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily injury.
To Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, I say the following: I forgive you. Since Stephen’s death in the crash that day, I often ask myself, what would Stephen think, say or do? The answers often govern my actions.
I can say with conviction that my son Stephen would forgive you. Stephen was a spiritual young man with a strong faith in God; he practised forgiveness with an open heart and was compassionate by nature.
That said, we have driving laws for the protection and safety of our citizens.
The driver of the truck is charged with violating laws resulting in the death of 16 and injury of 13, and it is just that he be tried accordingly.
For me personally, however, closure is not dependent on the outcome of the case; I continue to heal and grow through my grief.
I would like to address the need for shoulder-harness seatbelts on all coach buses in Canada, along with the need for legislation making it compulsory to wear those seatbelts. My son Stephen was killed in the Broncos bus crash when he was launched from his seat upon impact, smashing the back of his head and breaking his neck.
Envision for a moment, if you will, that being your child or loved one. Following the results of the investigation
They woke up that morning with hopes to win the game but instead they united the world.
into the crash, we were shocked to learn that there were, in fact, lap seatbelts on that bus. Seatbelts left unworn were rendered useless. While the crash scene depicts devastation, look more closely and you will see the majority of bus seats intact. What would the outcome have been if the team had been wearing shoulder harness seatbelts that day?
In the days following the crash, my husband and I asked ourselves, why are we required to wear seatbelts in vehicles and on planes, but not on buses? I recall growing up before seatbelt laws were passed for cars, and the back seat with siblings was a free-for-all, driving our parents crazy. Eventually, laws were put into place making it compulsory to wear seatbelts in vehicles for a reason: seatbelts save lives.
Investigating further, I learned that in the United Kingdom, coach bus passengers are legally required to wear seatbelts. Typically, before a bus departs, a seatbelt announcement is made telling passengers to buckle up. Our federal government recently announced that as of Sept. 1, 2020, seatbelts will be mandatory on newly built medium and large highway buses. While this is a step in the right direction, seatbelts can only save lives if people wear them.
Let’s enact a law to empower bus drivers and those in authority on buses to facilitate the wearing of those bus belts.
I cannot say whether the wearing of seatbelts on the Broncos bus that day would have saved lives or limited injury of any of the 29 passengers. But what if a seatbelt had saved even one life? And what if that one life was your son. Your daughter. Your loved one.
In response to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, people across our nation have united in love and support. We have felt that; we have found healing and strength in that. And because of that, we now have a voice.
I would like to use that voice to unite our nation in enacting positive change so that the legacy of my son and those on the Broncos bus that fateful day will be carried forward. Let’s buckle up for the Broncos.
Tricia Wack’s son, Stephen, was one of 16 people killed in the April 6 crash of a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior team.